Soraya de Chadarevian
Based on 13 Users
The lectures were unclear, confusing, and altogether unhelpful. We often wasted time at the beginning of classes on technical difficulties and other things rather than lecture material. Soraya's explanation of the material was all over the place, I had no idea what content to even study for. I did learn a lot in discussion sections, and I don't think it would be too hard to get an A if you have a good TA who helps to clarify things, but in my opinion the lectures were essentially pointless.
That aside, what was most concerning were Soraya's policies regarding the pandemic and general accessibility concerns. She refused to upload lecture slides for the first week of class. Her reasoning was that posting slides would disincentivize people from coming to class, and give 'spoilers' to the material. I personally have never had a professor who has refused to provide slides, and as someone who prefers to take notes directly on the slides during lecture this was a bit frustrating. To her credit, after many students brought up their concerns during lecture, she eventually agreed.
The biggest issue was when UCLA announced the transition back to in person classes mid-winter quarter. She stated that she would only hold lectures in-person, and offered NO virtual options such as recordings. If you had to miss a class, she said you could come to in-person office hours, but even then she said she was only able to clarify lecture material, not teach content you missed. She argued that this is how things would be 'in normal times,' even though we are clearly experiencing extraordinary circumstances (and even pre-pandemic many professors offered Bruincast). As far as I know this is completely unheard of, and very insensitive to students' concerns for health, not to mention students with disabilities or those who were unable to travel back to LA at such short notice. It essentially punishes students who are unable to come to class even if they have COVID, and puts every student's health at risk. Pretty ironic for a class about scientific ethics.
Soraya is super nice and really cares about student learning, lectures might be dry but that's because the readings are dense! Use your resources and utilize your TA's (shoutout to Courtney!) The class isn't that bad, you'll be fine.
Soraya is the least articulate professor I have ever had. Almost the whole time no one understood the point she was trying to make (and 75% of the class was asleep). It was kinda sad, I felt bad. She does this thing where she will talk and talk and talk, lose her train of thought, then start mumbling something and go on to the next topic. Really annoying.
For the assigned readings, I recommend at least skimming over them. The longer ones I just made sure I knew the main points. I read through the short ones.
Here is the good news. The midterm and finals are doable. Just make sure to review the slides, and I mean really review them. Make sure you can explain what the concept trying to be made is. Go to office hours (for your TA) and just ask them what the point of every slide was, tying it back to the main concepts. Elizabeth Seger was the best TA. I don't know if she will be a TA again, but all I can say is that a good TA is essential for this class (so ask around and change sections if you must, that's what I did).
The tests are blue book / free response. Usually 5 short answer (definition type questions) that you pick from a list of 10, and as well a short essay prompt that you pick from 2-3 prompts. Final and midterm are the same length.
Ended the class with an A. I really didn't put in that much effort other than going to every lecture and section, and making sure I had a general understanding of the main concepts.
Only reason I'm giving an average rating is b/c of the TA. This class is very dry in my opinion and your grade depends more on the TA than the professor. The reading is a lot every week but after week 4, I just looked up summaries of each one. Mainly b/c participation mattered in discussion. There was a take-home midterm essay and two more essays. The final was some short answers and one long essay. Idk how I got this grade but if you take this class and get a nice TA, you should be fine. Just be warned that the material is kinda boring and that the professor is all over the place. Some of her slides still say from 2010. But I wouldn't say its necessary to attend all her lectures, just look over the slides after since she posts them.
I stopped going to lectures after week 3 as they were too boring to pay attention. Her lectures are not engaging, but her slides are posted and they give just enough information to do well in the class. Luckily the sections are engaging and interesting, and you can learn a decent amount from that There is a ton of reading that we discuss during section, but as long as you know the general overview of the reading you'll be able to contribute. We had a participation grade in section, but I am not sure how we were graded because I highly doubt he knew our names. The midterms are essays, so you are not forced to actually know the material until the final. As long as you follow the guidelines of the essay and use the sources they want you to, the grading is extremely easy. For her final, as long as you know general overview of things and most of the terms, you'll be set.
Her lectures were honestly kind of useless, not that it mattered since you were specifically told not to reference them for the essays. There is a lot of reading, which the mandatory discussions depended on, but you can get by if you pay attention to the discussions and have any kind of background on the 20th century to provide your own commentary (for participation points.) Grading was pretty easy on the essays, which make up the vast majority of your grade.
DREADFUL lecturer. Had her for History 3C. When I first signed up for the class, I was expecting to learn intriguing HISTORY of science, just like the course title states. Stuff like history of the discovery of DNA structure, history of nuclear weapon, history of chemical warfare, etc. But instead, all I've learned were ETHICS of these scientific inventions/movements, which were something I totally did not expect nor even have any interest whatsoever. One of our essay was about the ethics of gender roles in regards to Rosalind Franklin, NOTHING about the history of DNA construction or whatsoever.
Well that's just my rant about the misleading title of the course. Now about the class itself...About 150 pages of completely unnecessary readings per week. Seriously, I fell asleep after reading 10 pages of week 1 assignment, and we never even talked about them in class/discussion. If you are precautious about those GEs that can be more difficult/time consuming than your core classes, definitely add this class to your list.
Let's see...Oh. For our discussions, we had to submit some kind of a discussion topic into the CCLE forum before the start of class. But there were times when these forums never opened until the hour before class begin, so we had no choice, but either to procrastinate until the last hour, or like me, don't even bother at all and accept the 0 with dignity, then argue about the inefficiency of the whole system. The lecture room is like 80 degrees every day, the lecturer is never prepared to teach, technology inefficiency, and list goes on with all other quintessencial elements that delineates a terrible lecturer. Sorry for my terrible grammar; I'm writing this at 2:00 am of my precious spring break night because it just feels so essential.
TL;DR The title of the course is a complete bullshet, and if you want to do well in this class, pray for a chill TA.